Find the Best Online Colleges For 2019

Online Programs Offered
Schools That Offer An Online Program
Students Enrolled In An Online Program


From the experts who also bring you:

What Are Online Colleges?

What is an online college? Here at, we don’t define an “online college” as a college that only exists on the internet. An online college might have a physical campus, or no campus at all. It might run on a semester system, or a quarter system, or its own unique system. It might offer one online degree program, or a hundred. Every student’s needs are different, and every student should decide what kind of college best meets their individual needs.

In order for a school to be featured on our rankings and in our tools, they must meet the following criteria:

They must be accredited. Accreditation is vital for knowing whether a college, online or otherwise, is offering legitimate education.
Learn more about accreditation here.
They must offer at least one degree program that can be completed fully or partially online.
At least 1 percent of their student body must be enrolled in distance learning courses.

What Should I Know About Online Colleges?

Similarities to traditional colleges:
  • Quality of education
  • Rigor of study
  • Credibility of degree
  • Wide range of programs
  • Communicating with instructors
  • Connecting with classmates
Advantages to online colleges:
With fewer constraints on time and place, students can organize their studies to learn whenever and wherever is convenient for them.
If you have your heart set on a school in another city or state, see if that school offers online programs. Attending that school may be easier than you think!
No need to move
Commuting costs may be less relevant if you are attending school online. Some colleges even charge in-state tuition for online students, regardless of a student’s state of residence.
Health or mobility issues can make navigating a campus a difficult proposition. An online program can allow a student to focus on their education without such challenges.

Who's a Match for Online Colleges?

Students with Family Commitments
Family priorities such as a child or a sick parent to care for can make it difficult to commit to regular campus attendance. An online program can be a more doable prospect.
Returning Students
Students returning to school after a long absence might feel more comfortable getting back into academics from the comfort of their own home, rather than in a crowded classroom.
Working Professionals
Working professionals can have unpredictable schedules, or be sent off on long business trips on short notice. A flexible online program can help with working around a busy career.
Students Who Learn Differently
Not all students perform well in a rigid academic schedule. For example, students who work better at night might appreciate being able to set their own timetable and change it when necessary, rather than running on school-regulated hours.

Types of Online Degree Programs:

  • Undergraduate and graduate options may be available, depending on school and major
  • Usually a year or less to complete
  • Emphasizes real-world skills and career-relevant education
  • Undergraduate level
  • Usually takes two years to complete
  • Combines major-specific courses with a broad overview of general education topics
  • Undergraduate level
  • Usually takes four years to complete
  • Starts with core education and lower-division courses, transitions to upper-division courses
  • Graduate level
  • Duration varies
  • Delves into theory and high-level concepts through upper-division courses
  • Graduate level
  • Duration varies
  • The pinnacle of recognized education, focused on in-depth research and critical thought
The first fully online college to be accredited was Jones International University, which was accredited by the Higher Learning Commission in 1993.

Online Course Delivery:

Lecture is held at fixed times like an on-campus class, through online chat or video conferencing. This can be useful to students who prefer a regulated class schedule.
Lectures are typically pre-recorded and can be watched online. This can be preferable for students who are looking for full flexibility in their course schedule.
Online lectures and assignments are mixed with in-person responsibilities. This may involve going to campus or utilizing a local facility or proctor.

Resources On

Best Online Colleges by State

Finding the best school for each individual is our mission at And who knows your needs better than you do? That’s why we’ve developed the following resources, which can help you to find the school with the quality, the programs and the price point you need.

It may surprise you to know that 72 percent of online students attend a school within 100 miles of home. After all, with schools around the world only a click away, why stay local? As it happens, there are some good reasons to search for online colleges in your state:

  • You may understand a local college’s reputation, quality and atmosphere better than that of out-of-state college.
  • In many cases, the availability of financial aid is based on your state of residence rather than your school’s.
  • Depending on your choice of program and courses, you may need to visit your school’s campus to take an important test or attend a crucial lab.

For these reasons, we’ve taken the time to rank the best colleges for each and every state in America. On each state page, you can find a list of the best online colleges in that state, along with state-specific information on accreditation and financial aid.

Tools to help you find the right online college

College Comparison Tool

There’s a lot to keep in mind when choosing an online college. Use our College Comparison Tool to select and compare schools you are considering. The tool displays details about online colleges – such as tuition costs, number of online programs and availability of services – in easily comparable columns.

College Comparison Tool

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